Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) are pre-hire contracts that set standards for wages, diversity, local hire, health coverage and safety on a given public works project. Large municipalities in California, such as San Diego, have attempted to ban them in the past because they claim PLAs are too union-friendly. Often times, though, union contractors and construction workers are the only contractors and construction workers able to comply with the standards set by the PLA, standards which every worker, union or non, deserves to work under.
PLAs do not exhibit a union bias, they merely exhibit a standards bias. Moreover, unions tend to be the only organizations willing to battle broadly for construction workers’ rights, so they are typically the groups responsible for pushing PLAs.
Today, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB829, a bill that prevents PLA bans, such as the one sought in San Diego, in the Golden State. Below is a press release from the State Building and Construction Trades of California regarding the legislation.
Freedom to Consider PLAs Protected
Governor Jerry Brown today signed Building Trades sponsored SB 829, which makes it unequivocally clear that no local governments may enact blanket prohibitions on PLAs without losing state funding for public works projects.
The bill is a follow-up to last years’ SB 922, which prohibited bans on local PLAs.
But anti-union forces creatively argued that SB 922 wouldn’t apply to some charter cities. So we sponsored SB 829, to remove any trace of doubt that the law applies to all charter cities as well.
The bill passed both the Assembly and Senate on party line votes, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed. It was during the Assembly floor debate that one of the Republicans, Assembly Member Shannon Grove of Bakersfield, made the outlandish claim that labor unions were “enemies of the constitution.”
SBCTC Legislative Director Cesar Diaz said SB 829 now eliminates any lack of clarity regarding PLA bans, and makes it crystal clear that local governments must remain free to consider whether to use PLAs if they are to receive state funding for construction projects.
We must again extend a huge thank you to all of our affiliates who contacted legislators and expressed support. The successful effort to pass SB 829 is the result of your hard work and incredible unity between city officials, the environmental community, affordable housing advocates, civil rights groups, our signatory contractors, organized labor, and the Building Trades.